Nine Inch Nails, Japanese Breakfast, Kurt Vile and more at Shaky Knees Fest Saturday April 30th in Atlanta

Dehd at Shaky Knees

I’ve needed a week to recover from a full day at the Shaky Knees fest in Atlanta and the Nilufer Yanya show the next day in Asheville. I’ve been exhausted all week (I tested, I don’t have Covid) after going nonstop from Noon until 11PM at the fest. Not to mention the drive home too.

The first band of the day for me was Francis of Delirium.

I got there and grabbed a good but very expensive Korean BBQ quesadilla and took in the first band Francis of Delirium. Most of the timed I like the set up with one band starting immediately when another ends on another stage. Although this sometimes meant missing some of the first song while traveling between stages or making a point to leave early. I slipped out during the end of this set to hit the next stage for Dehd.

I mostly know Dehd from the two songs that get played on XMU. Those were probably the ones I liked best so good choices XMU I guess. It was very hot here but Dehd ended early and I was about to get some water and go to the port a potty before the next band.

Chasity Belt, who I noticed Kurt Vile watching as well.

After Chasity Belt we took a bit of a break and watched Djo from far away from a shady hill. Things were about to really get going.

Guided By Voices

Next up Guided By Voices. This was my first time seeing them and I was looking forward to it. Their set was great I just wish it could have been longer than 45 minutes!

Phantom Planet

After GBV we made the trek to the Criminal records stage for a blast from the past, Phantom Planet. Their set was fine but of course it was basically waiting patiently for that California song. I took a break to get water and more expensive food. At the end they had some fun and said you might know this last one and paused before joking that it would be Wonderwal. And then of course they played their song. When you think about was probably the most well known song of the day by anyone not named Nine Inch Nails.

Gang of Youths

Now we rushed back to see Gang of Youths getting there right as they were starting up. I’d read good things about them and they didn’t disappoint. Very energetic set and one of the best new bands of the day. I look forward to checking out more of their stuff.

Molchat Doma

The day was flying by with the complete lack of down time. I headed right back to the Criminal Records stage to catch some of Molchat Doma. They had a cool 80s darkwave sound and I ended up sticking around over half the set but then I had to take my last chance at bathrooms and water. The ones I paid the big ticket price for where coming up.

Kurt Vile

I got back with maybe an entire 10 minutes to rest before Kurt Vile began. His new album Watch My Moves just came out and I haven’t had a ton of time to absorb it yet but so far I’m loving it and was glad to hear a decent amount of new songs from it live. We also got to see old favorites like Loading Zones, Pretty Pimpin, and one of my all time favorite songs, Wakin on a Pretty Day. Anytime I get to see that song I’m going to be happy. Since it was a fest he only got an hour and the lengthy Goldtone and anything from Smoke Ring For My Halo were the cuts. But I was very happy with the set.

Amyl and the Sniffers

This was a great set. Amyl ripped through song after song with intensity. She even stage dove off the amps and bloodied her face and kept going. I know some people have questioned this band but they sound punk, act punk, look punk. They are the real deal. I don’t why they were on this festival instead of other punk bands and I don’t care. Maybe there will be more like them on next year’s fest. We had to choose between seeing them and Chvrches who were playing at the same time. No offense to Chvrches but there was no doubt we made the right choice.

Japanese Breakfast

Luckily our next destination was the stage right next door. We had a minute or so to spare to try to get ready for a completely different vibe. Not long after Amyl’s last chords rang out the swell of Papikra, the beautiful first song on the best album of 2021, began. It took a little bit to settle in but as always Michelle Zauner’s performance was great. She only seems to get better with time. Not only did we see highlights from Jubilee as the sun disappeared but old favorites like Road Head, Everybody Wants to Love You and the excellent closer of the set Diving Woman. We also got to see the new song Glider from a recent video game soundtrack. You can find reviews of three other Japanese Breakfast shows in the archives. I’m glad I’ve had to chance to see these songs so many times, they never get old.

That only left one thing, the night’s headliner Nine Inch Nails. There was no way I was missing Diving Woman so even though we rushed we didn’t quite make it to see Trent Reznor and company as they emerged but we did hear the first familiar sounds of Mr. Self Destruct when they began. I had no idea what to expect here, Nine Inch Nails have released quite a few newer albums that I haven’t kept up with but I had nothing to worry about from this set. It was heavy on songs from the classic album The Downward Spiral, along with songs from Broken, Pretty Hate Machine and one off old songs like Burn and The Perfect Drug. Closer was surprisingly early in the set which sent some people for the exits. I love this move, cleared some space and made things interesting. But what kind of idiot leaves before Head Like A Hole! I was very happy to hear I’m Afraid of Americans the David Bowie song Trent Reznor memorably appeared in the video for. Wasn’t expecting that one. We heard Bite The Hand That Feeds before Head Like A Hole and a very short fake encore break before Hurt ended the set and the day at Shaky Knees. This was a great way to end the night. A big crowd pleasing set that ranks very high on my list of shows from big time mainstream bands like this.

A long fun day that flew by. Worth all the money. Here’s hoping next year has a lineup that can compete with this.

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